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Panjgur


District Panjgur Panjgur, being an integral part of the Makran for centuries, has passed through the corridors of history under various regimes. Known history of the area goes back to the time of prophet Dawood, when people entombed themselves to avoid famine. The area is said to be possessed by Iranian King Kaus followed by Afrasiab of Turan and then by Kai Khusrau, again an Iranian. Then there is a long list of rulers, including Lehrasp, Gushtasp, Bahman, Huma and Darab, till the year 325 BC. An army contingent of Alexander the Great passed through the Makran, then known as Gadrosia, on its way from India to Macedonia. Greek historian Arrian has commented on land, environment and people of the area. He found the climate very hot, the soil sandy and the land inept for human settlement. Afterwards, the area was ruled by Seleukos Nikator, one of Alexander’s generals, who lost it to Chandragupta in 303 BC. Then the tract of history is lost in darkness for centuries and in fifth century after the death of Christ we find the area being given to Bahram-i-Gor (404 to 427 AD) as a part of dower of Shermah’s daughter. An ascertained of the area is found in 643 AD when Islamic army under the command of Abdullah conquered Makran and wrote to the Caliph Umar about the aridity of the land. Arabs ruled the land one after the other. All the Arab geographers of the era, like Ibn Haukal, Ibn Khurdadba, Al Istakhri and Al Idrisi, have described the country as “for the most part desert”. According to a local legend, Muhammad bin Qasim also passed through the area on his way to Sind. Although many invaders, like the Deilamis, the Seljuks, the Ghaznivids, the Ghorids, the Mangols and the Portuguese, conquered the land, mostly the local rulers, including Hots, Rinds, Maliks, Buledais and Gichkis, exercised authority in the area as the conquerors had no intentions to stay there.

Two regimes of local rulers, of Buledais and Gichkis, are worth mentioning here. The Buledais gained power with rise of the Zikri sect. These rulers are said to be connected with the rulers of Maskat and were called Buledais in reference with the valley of Buleda where they resided. The Buledais ruled the area for more than a century up to the year 1740. In the last years of their regime they embraced Islam. The Zikri folk joined hands with the Gichkis, who also were Zikris by faith. After complete take-over of the area, the older branch of Gichkis took hold of Panjgur. The family feuds and internal dissension between Gichkis resulted in nine (either partially or fully successful) expeditions by Mir Nasir Khan I. Panjgur was the target of his first expedition. It is said that the main motive behind all these expeditions, made by Mir Nasir Khan I, was to eliminate the Zikris as he belonged to (anti-Zikri) Muslim faith. These expeditions resulted in the division of revenues between the Khan and Gichkis. Mir Mehrab Khan, grand successor of Mir Nasir Khan I, appointed Faqir Muhammad Bizanjo as his naib (assistant) in the area to keep a stronghold. This naib represented the Khan in this area for more than 40 years. Afterwards local influential were appointed as naibs of the Khan due to ineffectiveness of non-local naibs. Foreign support and fragmented local population of Balochs gave the Gichkis super-ordination and they became Hakims (rulers) of the area.

The first Afghan war (1838-39) directed attention of the British to the area. Major Goldsmith visited the area in 1861 and an Assistant Political Agent was appointed in Gwadar in 1863. In 1882, Mir Gajian, Sardar of Panjgur and Khan’s naib, was killed by Mir Nauroz Khan Nausherwani, Chief of Kharan. These kind of internal feuds continued for years. In 1903, an Assistant Political Agent was appointed to the area with his headquarters at Panjgur. He was also an ex-officio Commandant of the Makran Levy Corps, appointed to enforce Khan of Kalat’s authority and to maintain peace at the borders. Panjgur remained under control of the Khan of Kalat during the colonial era, however the British rulers had influence in the affairs of the area.

After division of the Indian subcontinent into two sovereign states, Makran joined the Balochistan States Union in early 1949 along with Kalat, Lasbela and Kharan. In October 1955, Makran was given the status of a district of former West Pakistan province after its accession to Pakistan. On 1st July 1970, when “One Unit” was dissolved and Balochistan gained the status of a province, Makran became one of its 8 districts. On 1st July 1977, Makran was declared a division and was divided into three districts, named Panjgur, Turbat (renamed Kech) and Gwadar. Panjgur was notified as a district on July 1, 1977. In the post-colonial history, Panjgur faced two natural disasters. In 1958-59, heavy rain for a whole week resulted in heavy flood, which destroyed the date trees and other crops. In 1960, cholera spread in the villages of Bonistan and Isai costing hundreds of lives. These two villages still have occasional incidence of cholera due to the lack of clean drinking water.

There are two predominant etiologic explanations about the word Panjgur. One says that the word is a combination of two Balochi words panch, means five, and gor, means grave. It is said that five aoliya (saints) were laid to rest in this land. Therefore the area was called as panchgor which later on became Panjgur. Some people claim that the original word was Panchnur (five lights) in reference with the five saints. The second perspective is a geographical one. Some people say that Panjgur is land of panch (five) kor (stream). The word panchkor changed, with the passage of time, to Panjgur. It is worth mentioning here that there is no human settlement named Panjgur. The district headquarters are stationed at Chitkan, which is to some extent a central place and in close vicinity of eleven other villages within a radius of 3-4 kilometres alongside the bank of Rakhshan river.

Among objects of archaeological interest may be mentioned Kuhna Kalat, in the construction of which large baked red bricks have been used, and which is said to have been destroyed by the Persians; the tomb of Malik Asa and others which are constructed of glazed bricks with rough figures of men and animals upon them; an ancient dam, named Band-e-Gillar; and remnants of the fort of Nawab Habibullah Khan of Kharan in the village of Khudabadan. There are many old shrines including those of Shah Qalandar and Pir Umar in the district. The shrine of Shah Qalandar is made of baked tiles. Some decorative tiles have figures of human and animals engraved on them.
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